April 5th, 2012
Econintersect: Week 13 of 2012 ending 31 March 2012 shows rail traffic continued to contract over 2011 levels according to data released by the American Association of Railroads (AAR).
“There is no denying that coal is a crucial commodity for railroads, and there’s also no denying that recent declines in coal traffic are presenting significant challenges to railroads right now,” said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray. “That said, it’s encouraging that many commodities that are better indicators of the state of the economy than coal is — things like motor vehicles, lumber and wood products, and crushed stone — saw higher rail carloadings in March.”
The pattern in the data is the same as it has been for over a month. The majority of the reason for the contraction is coal movements - which would only effect the profitability of railroads, and not really an economic indicator as coal is an alternative fuel. With traffic without coal up 3.3%, the economy seems healthier than in the last six weeks.
|Week 11 2012||Carloads||Intermodal||Total|
|This week Year-over-Year||-6.2%||3.6%||-5.5%|
|This week without coal
|Year Cumulative to Date||-2.5%||2.5%||-1.7%|
Note that the total year-to-date traffic are now contracting year-over-year.